Policy needed on single-use plastic

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    JUST like the vapes as alternative to tobacco smoking, government policy on single-use plastic is needed to guide the people, both consumers, manufacturers, distributors and law enforcers, on how to regard this controversial product.

    The House of Representatives and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have differing views on how to treat single-use plastic. Environmentalists and consumer advocates have another view, along with those wanting a total ban on this commodity.

    An official of the DENR has proposed that Congress should impose a heavy tax on single-use plastic bag – to discourage its use and address the alarming rate by which plastic pollution is consuming our waterways, plains, mountains, rivers, and valleys.

    Benny Antiporda, DENR undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns, made the call as the House Committee on Ways and Means is set to invite the DENR to ask its position on House Bill 178 which seeks to impose a ten-peso excise tax for every kilo of single-use plastic bag removed from the place of production or released from the customs house.

    Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing earlier proposed the P10 excise tax, but Antiporda said the single-use plastic bags should be taxed some more, and not banned. “I propose that rather than banning it, we should tax it. We should impose a heavy tax,” Antiporda said.

    The DENR official also pointed out that instead of the Suansing proposal of allocating 50 percent of the revenues collected from this excise tax to the Solid Waste Management Fund of the DENR, it should be the full amount.

    It was the DENR’s way of saying that it really needs a lot of money to solve the problem of solid wastes nationwide. To even make a dent or a scratch, modern technology is needed in solving the problem of garbage, and as you know, technology is expensive.

    Antiporda minced no words in pointing this out. He said, “It should be 100 percent. I will propose that all goes directly to the solid waste management because we need a large amount of money when it comes to solving this problem. If we don’t come up with technologies, nothing will happen. The technology comes with a price.”

    Our fear in all these haggling is that same concern aired by Willy Go, president of the Philippine Plastics Industry Association, that consumers will ultimately shoulder the highest costs. Go said the industry has reduced its output by 20 percent because many LGUs have banned the use of these plastic bags.

    “Why legislate a new tax when our industry will just die a natural death?” he asked.

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